The number of projects in this year’s annual development programme (ADP) getting token allocations has increased significantly, a trick that can keep these projects alive for years.
According to planning commission data, 62 projects have got just Tk 1 lakh allocation this fiscal year, up from 26 two years ago.
Of the 62 projects, 12 are 90 percent complete, while there is even one scheme that is almost 99 percent implemented.
“Many of these projects are included in the ADP on political consideration and they remain unimplemented for years due to inadequate allocation of resources,” said a senior planning commission official.
Bangladesh’s spending for development projects has been increasing incrementally in the past decade.
The government allocated over Tk 2 lakh crore for 1,358 projects in this fiscal year’s ADP. The allocation was just around Tk 20,000 crore 10 years ago.
Interestingly, the ADP contains only a small number of new projects while over 90 percent had been undertaken years ago with extensions provided to their completion deadlines.
These token allocations do not fulfill the objective of public spending, rather causes further delays in the project implementation, said Mostafa Amir Sabbih, senior research associate of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
“These allocations are just to keep the projects alive and are a misallocation of resources,” added Sabbih, who has been conducting research on public investment for over five years.
But the government has indiscriminately taken up these projects under the ADP and allocated Tk 1 lakh for each without giving consideration to their importance or deadline.
Take the case of the Tk 122.57 crore project for widening a highway from Langalbandh to Minarbari in Narayanganj. As of last February, Tk 5 lakh of its allocation has been spent and it got just Tk 1 lakh this fiscal year.
Infrastructure development in 19 important municipal areas also got the same allocation. The associated project was taken up in January 2011 and scheduled to be completed by June 2019.
Another striking case is a Tk 149.11 crore project for the establishment of Sheikh Rehana Textiles Engineering College.
As of February, Tk 72.27 crore was utilised before the government gave it only Tk 1 lakh this fiscal year.
Md Nurul Amin, secretary to planning division, said the government allocated token funds to keep the projects alive until the foundation stone could be laid.
He, however, said they had decided to properly allocate funds this year for the ongoing projects.